Summary: We are Christ's ambassadors to a lost world.
Ambassadors For Christ
This morning I want to speak to you about a very important subject for us who profess and desire to be followers of Jesus Christ. The waters are muddy this morning concerning what it means to be a follower of Jesus. There are theorems, ideas, and proposals concerning our relationship to Jesus that are impeding the cause of Christ around the world and in our own community. There is the idea that being a follower of Jesus is nothing more than a self-improvement program. If you want to lose weight, gain deeper insights, quit smoking, repair your relationships, or win the lottery then you should get connected to Jesus. To minimize Jesus to simply another self-help guru like Deepak Chopra, Richard Simmons, Oprah Winfrey, or Tony Robbins is one of the most insane decisions that we could ever make. I will guarantee you that if you surrender your life and will to Jesus then your life will change, but it may not change in the way you wanted - it will be far better, far more challenging, than you could ever dream.
There are others in our society who understand being a follower of Jesus as nothing more than attending church. Attending worship is a good thing, but Jesus is too big to be boxed in to a one-hour activity to be endured once a week.
There are so many ideas of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Most of them are based on some element of truth found in God's Word, but the vast majority fall far short of what the Bible describes as being a follower of Jesus.
If you want to find the essence of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, the core of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, then we must consult the Word of God to find our answer. Let's take a look at Paul's letter to the Church in Corinth as he describes for them what it means to be a follower of Jesus. After we gain a good understanding, then we will work to see how this understanding can change and shape each of our lives.
14Whatever we do, it is because Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live. 15He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them. 16So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though he were merely a human being. How differently I think about him now! 17What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! 18All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. 19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. 20We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, "Be reconciled to God!" 21For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 6 1As God's partners, we beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God's great kindness. 2For God says, "At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you." Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2)
This is such a powerful section of God's Word for us who are going into the last year of this millenium. As Greg Shaw shared with you last Sunday, many in our world believe that we are facing all kinds of uncertainty as 1999 begins. As the year rolls on you are going to hear more and more predictions and propositions of impending doom and destruction. There will be all kinds of questions that will arise and people will be searching for answers as to what is "True" and what is "False." The time is ripe for the people of God to rise up to the times and make ourselves available to those around us. The time is ripe for us to speak the Word of God with boldness, without compromise, and offer the grace, hope, and mercy of God to those around us. The time is ripe!